Customer-centric innovation is focus of Knight Campus talk

The path to innovation may look different in academia and industry, but a few key strategies promote success in both fields, according to Arlyne Simon.

Simon is a Portland biomedical engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and children’s book author. She will explore innovation strategies and speak about the lessons she has learned through commercializing biochemical tests and designing medical devices in an in-person 10 a.m. March 4 talk at the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

The lecture, “Be Customer-Centric: How to Innovate in Academia and Industry,” is part of the Knight Campus Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. The in-person event will be in the Knight Campus Beetham Family Seminar Room. Due to limited seating, registration is required

Recognized as a trailblazing female innovator by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Simon is a national STEM advocate who is helping to change the face of inventing. She created a blood test that detects when cancer patients reject bone marrow transplants and has developed hypodermic syringes, ultrasound machines and other groundbreaking medical devices,  

In her talk, Simon will examine product development in academia and industry and highlight the importance of zeroing in on the problem being addressed and understanding the target customer persona. She will focus on lessons she’s learned while commercializing her products and demonstrate how those lessons also apply when sparking an inventor’s mindset in young children through the “Abby Invents” STEM picture book series she created.

Originally from the island nation of Dominica, Simon holds a doctorate in macromolecular science and engineering from the University of Michigan as well as an undergraduate degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Georgia Tech University.

Along with her extensive resume as a scientist and inventor, Simon also is a source of inspiration for young innovators in the making, particularly young women in STEM. As the author of the “Abby Invents” picture book series, Simon crafts stories about a girl inventor who creates things that do not exist, like unbreakable crayons. Her most recent title, “Abby Invents The Foldibot,” was a finalist for the 2022 AAAS/Subaru Prize for excellence in science books.

Simon’s talk will be the eighth installment of the Knight Campus Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, which launched in the fall of 2019.

—By Alonso Cruz, Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact